Calle 23

Famous Street
CA Ranking: 3
From the Malecón to Zapata Ave.
  • Calle 23, or 23rd Steet, is a central, busy street in El Vedado district. It begins at the sea and ends in a river, the Almendares. Its first five streets, from Malecón to L Street are known as La Rampa, literally The Ramp, because it is on a slope. It is crossed by important avenues such as Avenida de los Presidentes and Paseo. Restaurants, ministries, movie theaters, mansions, churches, clubs, cigar factories are some of the sights found in this important thoroughfare.

    Calle 23 stretches across Vedado from east to west, a defining artery in terms of character and geography. From the modern-day buzz and ’50s high-rises of La Rampa, Calle 23 soon enters a mixture of low-rise apartment buildings, parks and commercial areas along its central stretch. In a small park at 23 and J, Cervantes fans will find an unusual nude and skinny statue of Don Quixote, made by artist Sergio Ramírez of thin steel rods and bars in 1980, mounted on his rail-thin steed Rocinante. A few blocks further west is a reconstruction project under the City Historian’s Office: the future Casa Ambientada de Arquitectura y Mobiliaria (Calle 23 #664, 835-3398), between D and E, will contain exhibits on period architecture and furniture. The façade and interior show striking examples of elaborate moulded wall reliefs from the 1920’s, when the house was built. The opening is anticipated for November 2006.
    Further west on 23, at the intersection with Calle 12, is Vedado’s second vibrating nerve centre (after 23 and L), with restaurants, cafés, peso shops, art galleries, cinemas and the headquarters of the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). Directly across the street from ICAIC is its Centro Cultural Cinematográfico, where there is a small café, art gallery and store (open 9am-5pm daily) that sells posters of Cuban films, videos and DVDs. Or you might want to visit Café Literario (open 9am-9pm daily), half a block to the west just past Calle 12, a charming little peso café that sells coffee and Cuban sweets, and has a modest stand of Spanish-language books (mainly poetry and literature) for clients to read or purchase.
    One block south of 23, on Calle 12, is Zapata, where you’ll find the main entrance to the Cementerio Colón (see below), an extraordinary city of the dead on the southern limits of Vedado. Following Zapata west around the periphery of Colón to Calle 26 is the Cementerio Chino (see below). Following Zapata east to the intersection with Paseo is the often-missed Memorial a Ethel y Julius Rosenberg. Sculpted by Cuban artist José Delarra, it honours the American couple who died in the electric chair in Sing Sing prison, New York, in 1953, after being falsely accused of giving the Russians the secret of the atom bomb. Every year, on 19 June – the day of their execution –Cubans gather here for a modest remembrance ceremony.
    Back on Calle 23, between 14 and 16, is the famous H.Upmann cigar factory (835 1371/2), which relocated here two years ago from Centro Habana. You’ll easily recognise it as it occupies a full block and is painted a soft yellow colour. Visits, including English-speaking guides, must be coordinated beforehand at Hotels Saratoga, Parque Central or Inglaterra, all in Habana Vieja. The quieter western end of 23 is a residential neighbourhood of large individual properties, which extends as far as Río Almendares, the boundary between Vedado and Miramar.

  • The Malecón

    The Malecón  LH 5+

    The Malecón, first named Avenida del Golfo, is Cuba’s most famous sea-side avenue. The project was undertaken by Don Francisco de Albear, Cuba’s greatest engineer at the time. Albear came up with a co …

    Iglesia de Jesús de Miramar

    Iglesia de Jesús de Miramar  LH 5

    Opened in 1953, this is Cuba’s second largest church, which is visible for several blocks due to its vast dome built in Roman-Byzantine style. The Jesús de Miramar church boasts 14 large mural paintin …

    Catedral de La Habana

    Catedral de La Habana  LH 5+

    The entry of the Jesuits in Cuba was formally requested in 1656, and in 1727, a plot was granted for their school and church. Bishop Brother Gerónimo Valdés explained to the King of Spain that Havana’ …

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)  LH 5

    History & architecture Considered the most important example of baroque architecture in the city, this grand building on the west side of the plaza was built in 1792, on the sight of the former pa …

    Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula

    Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula  LH 5

    In 1664 the Presbyter of the Cathedral of Havana, don Nicolás Estévez Borges, ordered the construction of a chapel devoted to Saint Francis of Paola (founder of the Roman Catholic Order of the Minims) …

    Edificio Bacardí

    Edificio Bacardí  LH 5

    The first and main exponent of art deco in the city belonged to Emilio Bacardí and was the home to his famous rum company. After winning the contest held by Bacardí, architects E. Rodríguez, R. Fernán …

    Convento e Iglesia de la Merced

    Convento e Iglesia de la Merced  LH 5

    Built between 1865 and 1867, this is arguably one of Havana’s most lush churches. The temple stands opposite a small square and its façade, constructed in Baroque style, features the principal door wi …

    Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam

    Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam  LH 5+

    The north-west corner of the square is occupied by the 18th-century Casa de los Condes de Peñalver, which has at different times served as a post office, a bank and a school. Today, it houses the Cent …

    Quinta Avenida

    Quinta Avenida  LH 5+

    Initially called Avenida de las Américas, Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) stretches from the tunnel that connects it to Calzada Street, in Vedado, to the Santa Ana River, in the locality of Santa Fe. Co …

    Plaza Vieja

    Plaza Vieja  LH 5+

    The 16th-century Plaza Vieja has always been a residential rather than a military, religious or administrative space, and is surrounded by elegant colonial residences, combined with a few very strikin …

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